How Being Ashamed of a Truth Causes You to Gaslight People
The downside of the process of socialization, which all of us go through when we are young, is that it teaches us that some things are acceptable and some things are unacceptable. This includes truths. When there is something that is true for us or true about us that falls into that unacceptable category for the specific social system that we are born into, we feel shame about it. We are trained to suppress, ignore, disown, reject, hide and deny that truth. We do this so effectively for the sake of our own survival, that we don’t just hide our truth from other people, we hide it from ourselves. And by doing so, we lose touch with our own truth.
The thing is, just because we do this with a truth doesn’t mean that truth goes away for us. In fact, it still shows through in different ways, causing us to send conflicting messages to others. Throwing them into a state of cognitive dissonance and even causing them to feel gaslit by us.
To gaslight someone is to sow seeds of doubt in their mind that makes them question their own sense of personal truth and reality (things like memory, judgement, perception, feelings etc). It is to try to convince someone that what they see, they didn’t see, what they hear they didn’t hear and what they feel they have no reason to feel. To learn more about gaslighting, you can watch my video titled: Gaslighting (What is Gaslighting and How to Heal From It).
If we are ashamed of a truth we have, we will go to great lengths to suppress, ignore, disown, reject, hide and deny it. We will fail to do so completely. And so that truth will still shine through. As a result, we will be a walking contradiction. We will gaslight people with what we say vs. what we do and how they see and experience us.
To help you understand this dynamic, I will give you a couple of examples. Joel was the son of a single mother who was very young when she had him. She had a pattern of getting into a new relationship and getting pregnant each time, only to be abandoned by the new man. As a result, Joel ended up with 5 siblings, each with a different father. Joel’s mother lived off of the government. As a result of all of this, Joel spent his childhood taking on responsibilities that were not age appropriate. His childhood experience gave rise to an extreme desire to not have any responsibility, most especially for anyone else. The truth is, as an adult, he wants to be guided, provided for, protected, taken care of and for someone to take responsibility for him. But Joel lives in a society that says this desire is wrong. That the only way to be a real man and to be respected, is to be responsible and to guide, protect, provide for and take care of others. So, Joel is ashamed of his truth to the degree that he tries to deny this truth.
In the beginning of his relationships, he does this quite well. But he can’t keep it up for long. Eventually, the façade of the responsible man can’t be maintained because it isn’t the truth. And he starts acting passive, manipulatively setting up situations where he has to be taken care of, refusing to step up and take responsibility for things and making other people provide for him. People soon experience the truth about Joel. But because he continues to say that responsibility is everything and that he wants to take care of others and protect them and provide for them, everyone around him starts to feel gaslit.
Cala is a woman who was raised and lives in a Muslim community. Cala has never fit in very well. The truth is that she is opinionated, driven, competitive, strategic and achievement oriented. She loves the feeling of personal success and she loves wealth and money. But, her society frowns upon these character traits in a woman. Cala feels ashamed of who she really is. So, she does her best to become the model woman according to her society. She does her best to practice charity, be obedient, devote her time to helping other people succeed and tell herself and her children that money must not be a distraction from what truly matters. Because this isn’t the truth of her, Cala is a very confusing person to be around.
One minute, Cala will show up to someone else’s house with food when they are going through a tough time. The next, she will erupt in exasperation about having done it. She chose a life with a husband and had two little girls. But she resents parenting them and once she gets them off to school, she spends most of her time trying to be the best at her own personal hobby, singing. Cala professes to not care about money or status. But she swoons over designer hand bags and gets into conflicts with her husband often over her tendency to buy only the highest status products, regardless of their unjustified cost. She is constantly competing with the other women in her community regarding how she looks and what she has that they don’t and what she knows that they don’t who she knows that they don’t. Cala’s husband is constantly confused and frustrated by her. She acts like she hates their life together, but leads him to believe the opposite. The other women in her community often talk behind Cala’s back about how “snake-like” she is. Mostly because it feels to them like she simply feigns friendship, when really, she is treacherous.
The reality is that Cala would be much happier and a much better person if she simply owned the truth of who she really is and found an environment and social setting that welcomed that truth. The truth is that Cala would make a kick ass business woman and would excel in a setting that celebrated her strategic, achievement-oriented character. In fact, people would find her much less frightening if she were unapologetically the way she really is, as opposed to her trying to cover up who she really is and coming across deceptive. Because Cala is ashamed of the truth of herself, she unintentionally gaslights other people. People can tell she is one way, but she goes to great lengths to have you believe she is another way.
All this being said, there is such a thing as intentional, conscious gaslighting, which is a form of psychological abuse. But there is also such a thing as unintentional gaslighting. When two people are stuck in a parallel perceptual reality, this unintentional gaslighting can happen. To understand more about that, you can watch my video titled: The Most Dangerous Parallel Reality. But unintentional gaslighting can also occur when someone is so ashamed of a truth that even though you may be able to see it, they are still in the process of trying to deny it. Therefore, if you find yourself in a situation where you start to feel like someone else is gaslighting you about themselves, consider that this might be what is happening. And that you won’t get the actual truth unless 1. You make the truth they are trying to deny ok for them to have. Or 2. They get brave enough to own that truth, regardless of potential consequences.